Who Will Fill Elijah Cummings’ Congressional Seat?

Elijah Cummings

Who Will Fill Elijah Cummings’ Congressional Seat?

Republican Gov. Larry Hogan will decide who will fill the highly respected Democrat's seat.

Published October 18th

Written by Zayda Rivera

U.S. Rep Elijah Cummings died Thursday (October 17) after 23 years in Congress. The highly respected Democrat's seat is now open and could be filled as early as February, The Baltimore Sun reports

Tasked with scheduling a special election is Maryland’s Republican Governor Larry Hogan, who has not made a decision yet on how to proceed, his spokesman said. 

The pressure is on as Hogan has 10 days to issue a proclamation with dates of special primary and general elections. After that, the special primary election will be held on a Tuesday at least 65 days after the proclamation, followed by a special general election, also on a Tuesday, at least 65 days after the primary. 

“This whole process could be five months,” said Jared DeMarinis, the state elections board’s director of candidacy and campaign finance. “And that’s moving it along.” 

Cummings was up for re-election in 2020. Therefore, if Hogan acts swiftly and a new representative takes the seat in February, they would have to run for re-election on April 28, during Maryland’s primary, The Baltimore Sun reports.

The newly elected representative has big shoes to fill, and the seat won’t be handed over easily. Whoever gets the honor will essentially have to go through three elections in less than a year -- a primary race, general election and another primary race.

Cummings’ Seventh Congressional District seat also spans across three jurisdictions, including Baltimore City, Baltimore County and Howard County, DeMarinis said, The Baltimore Sun reports.

While the law allows for swift action on the part of Hogan to fill the seat, he does have the option to leave it vacant. That option would ease the state expense of holding a special election, but it would also mean that Cummings’ seat would be empty for over a year. In that case, a new representative would be selected during the general election on Nov. 3, 2020, The Baltimore Sun reports.

The congressman, who passed away due to complications of long-standing health problems on Thursday (October 17) at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, was a key proponent in the impeachment inquiry on Trump as chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee.

New York Democrat Carolyn Maloney, the second on the Committee after Cummings, will take on the acting role of the Chair as the House continues moving full-force on gathering evidence and talking to witnesses in the investigation into Trump’s ties with the Ukrainian government. 

The probe aims at providing evidence as to whether Trump pressured the Ukrainian government to investigate 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son Hunter

Cummings led that charge, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the work will continue despite losing one of Congress’ most powerful voices. 

“The timeline (on impeachment) will depend on the truth line,” Pelosi told reporters Thursday morning, USA Today reports

Ironically, Thursday (October 17), the same day as Cummings’ death, was the first time a White House official conceded that Trump set up a quid quo pro scenario in which money approved by Congress for Ukraine was used as leverage. 

Mick Mulvaney, Trump’s acting chief of staff, is the one who made that acknowledgment but defended it as an arrangement that is standard practice, USA Today reports. 

Cummings was at the center of the impeachment effort and led a panel that demanded key documents and records. 

That panel has issued several subpoenas to key witnesses in the investigation, including Energy Secretary Rick Perry concerning his contacts with the Ukrainian government as well as the lawyer for two Ukrainian-born business partners who helped Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer, to investigate the former vice president and his son. The subpoenas even included the White House itself for pertinent documents, USA Today reports. 

The acting chairman, Maloney, worked alongside Cummings in the Trump impeachment inquiry, previously stating that he committed “treason” by pressuring Ukraine to investigate the former vice president and his son. 

“We will get to the bottom of this,” the 73-year-old former New York City teacher, who has a first-degree black belt in Taekwondo, said during a rally on Capitol Hill on September 26

Cummings went up against Trump even before the impeachment inquiry when he used his powerful voice to speak out on issues like the cost of prescription drugs and civil rights, including the inclusion of a citizenship question on the 2020 census. 

The highly regarded leader passed away at the age of 68 on Thursday, leaving behind three children -- two daughters and a son -- and his wife of more than a decade, Dr. Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, a chairwoman of the Maryland Democratic Party.

On Thursday, Mrs. Cummings issued a heartfelt statement describing her husband as “an honorable man who proudly served his district and the nation with dignity, integrity, compassion and humility.” 

“He worked until his last breath because he believed our democracy was the highest and best expression of our collective humanity,” she said. “I loved him deeply and will miss him dearly.”   

(Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images)


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